With an Inspirato membership, you gain access to a host of world-class amenities and perks, and we think one of the most exciting is Bespoke: our team of custom travel designers who can handcraft any trip, anywhere in the world.
Inspirato member John Kim and his family did just that when they planned a two-and-a-half week adventure to Africa with a completely custom itinerary.
After their trip to Mozambique that had been planned for 2020 got canceled due to COVID-19, the family opted for a redo in South Africa and Zimbabwe. The Bespoke team helped craft an itinerary based first out of Cape Town, with two different safaris in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
John opted for the custom Bespoke option rather than one of Inspirato’s traditional safari experiences because he appreciates the flexibility—he’s been working with the Bespoke team for three or four years now, he said.
“Now that the kids are getting older and going into high school, our schedules are getting a little more difficult to plan vacations around. I’m planning around my work schedule, too. So we’ve found that with working with Bespoke, having that flexibility is priceless. I think we communicated through probably hundreds of different emails and 20 different itinerary changes,” he said, laughing.
And that flexibility came hugely in handy when COVID-19 hit their travel plans hard—South Africa went into lockdown two days after the family arrived.
“All the reservations and stuff we had got canceled,” John said, and he worked closely with Lucie, one of his Bespoke planners, to figure out a new plan. Even their international flights got canceled the week before they were supposed to leave—Lucie and the air team at Inspirato were able to find new ones to book at the last minute.
And it all worked out: The family was able to kick off their trip at Babylonstoren, a working farm outside Cape Town. The kids—ages 17, 14, and 9—picked their own fruits and vegetables and cooked John and his wife dinner to celebrate their anniversary.
After that, the family boarded a flight up to Zimbabwe, where they enjoyed a safari on the Zambezi River for two days. The Zambezi is huge, John said, and they saw hippos, crocodiles, and elephants. They also saw Victoria Falls, which was one of their biggest priorities on the trip—it’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
“Some of my South African friends told me that the sunsets in Africa are like nothing you’ve ever seen, and it was true,” he said. “It’s such a large river that you can see the sun rise and set from the same location.”
“Our tracker was following this male lion, which turned into a pride of both male and female lions. They were on a daytime hunt, which is rare, and we were able to see them take down a full-grown adult water buffalo,” he said. “We saw the whole thing. … I think our kids, at least initially, were a little put off by it, but they were able to appreciate it. I mean, that’s nature—that’s the animal kingdom!”
John and his family saw plenty of other wildlife, too, like a precious leopard cub snuggled up in a tree. The family also loved getting to see South Africa’s bright, pristine night sky.
“Living on the West Coast, you can’t see the night sky, but since there isn’t a lot of light pollution in Africa, and we were doing safaris late into the night, we just turned off the lights on the truck and we could see the Milky Way, which I had never seen before,” he said. “We also saw the Southern Cross, which you can only see from the Southern Hemisphere.”
Despite the hiccups that came with an international trip during COVID, John and his family made incredible memories.
It was all worth it in the end because we had such a good time—being able to see what we got to see was just amazing.John KimInspirato member
They even have two more Bespoke trips planned for next year: a Costa Rica trip over his kids’ spring break in March 2022, and a two-week summer cruise around Greece.